Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Ascot and Haydock Park on Saturday. View selections below.
With star acts Silviniaco Conti and Dynaste having something to prove following wind operations, the each-way alternative in the Betfair Ascot Chase is Irish veteran FLEMENSTAR (3.35).
With three places on offer at odds of around 8-1, the 11-year-old makes plenty of appeal. Brilliant in his earlier years, Flemenstar was on the decline until a switch to Anthony Curran’s yard in November revitalised the old boy.
He was fortunate to land the Grade One chase at Leopardstown when Un De Sceaux fell but showed that run was no fluke by chasing home Felix Yonger in the Tied Cottage at Punchestown. Flemenstar ran down Simply Ned at Leopardstown’s Christmas fixture and this intermediate 2m 5f trip is ideal.
Silviniaco Conti has been out of sorts this season. Pulled-up in the King George at Kempton over Christmas, he was second to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock following a pipe-opener over hurdles behind Brother Tedd. He will be hard to beat if cherry-ripe, but comes with risks.
Dynaste has become inconsistent and David Pipe will be praying the grey’s wind op will spark a revival. The grey finds it difficult to win these days but is a grand performer on his day.
PULL THE CHORD (3.00) can give Philip Hobbs another nice Saturday winner in the Les Ambassadeurs Casino Handicap Hurdle.
With Richard Johnson on duty at Haydock, Jim Best steps into the plate and Pull The Chord was quite impressive when beating Sirop De Menthe more than four lengths at Exeter in November. He is very well treated with that rival, as Sirop De Menthe has climbed the ratings since their clash, having run second to the progressive Rayvin Black at Sandown last month. Pull The Chord was hit with a 10lb rise for his Exeter success and let favourite backers down at Taunton next time when no match for Winning Spark. Hobbs will have freshened him up for this contest.
Hobbs should be on the scoresheet earlier on the card, with ONENIGHTINVIENNA (1.15) holding obvious claims in the Sodexo Reynoldstown Chase. Tom O’Brien gets the leg-up this time and his mount can outclass five rivals if reproducing his run at Cheltenham in December when making a valiant bid to concede 5lb to Nigel Twiston-Davies’s exciting novice Blaklion.
Johnson is heading north to Haydock to partner Reve De Sivola (2.05), Bishops Road (2.40), Woodford Island (3.15), Capard King (3.50) and DUKE DES CHAMPS (4.25) in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, a Grade 2 contest over 2m 7f on heavy ground.
The Duke fairly bolted up from Western Cape at Ascot in January over 2m 5f, justifying strong market support following his unlucky second to Masterplan when a blunder two out cost him almost certain victory.
GAS LINE BOY (2.40) should go close in the Betfred Grand National Trial. Formerly a stout staying handicapper for the Hobbs team,. Gas Line Boy was having his first run for Jim Best here last month in the Peter Marsh Chase. Jumping for fun out in front, the 10-year-old had his rivals gasping for air until he misjudged the 14th fence and came a cropper.
My selection thumped Emperor’s Choice by 13 lengths over course and distance in November, 2014 and the visor he wore for the first time last month is retained.
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